« ZurückWeiter »
sense of his worth, passed the following resolution directing the erection of a monument to his memory.
Resolved, That the governor and council of the state of North Carolina, be desired to erect a monument, at the expense of the United States, not exceeding the value of five hundred dollars, to the memory of the late brigadier general Davidson, who commanded the militia of the district of Salisbury, in the state of North Carolina, and was killed on the first day of February last, fighting gallantly in the defence of the liberty and independence of these states. · DICKINSON, JOHN, a distinguished political writer and friend of his country, was the son of Samuel Dickinson, esquire, of Delaware. He was a member of the assembly of Pennsylvania, in 1764, and of the general congress in 1765. In November, 1767, he began to publish his celebrated letters against the acts of the British parliament, laying duties on paper, glass, &c. They supported the liberties of his country, and contributed much to the American revolution. He was a member of the first congress in 1774, and the petition to the king, which was adopted at this time, and is considered as an elegant composition, was written by him.
He was the author of the declaration adopted by the Congress of 1775, setting forth the causes and necessity of their taking up arms; which declaration was directed to be published by general Washington, upon his arrival at the camp before Boston, in July 1775. He also wrote the second petition to the king, adopted by the same congress, stating the merits of their claims and soliciting the royal interposition for an accommodation of differences on just principles. These several addresses were executed in a masterly manner, and were well calculated to make friends to the colonies. But their petition to the king, which was drawn up at the same time, produced more solid advantages in favour of the American cause, than any other of their productions. This was, in a great measure, carried through congress by Mr. Dickinson. Several inembers, judging from the violence with which parliament proceeded against the colonies, were of opinion, that farther petitions were nugatory; but this worthy citizen, a friend to both countries, and devoted to a reconciliation on constitutional principles, urged the expediency and policy of trying, once more, the effect of an humble, decent, and firm petition, to the common head of the empire. The high opinion that was conceived of his patriotism and abilities, induced the members to assent to the measure, though they generally conceived it to be labour lost.
In June, 1776, he opposed openly, and upon principle, the declaration of independence, when the motion was considered by Congress. His arguments were answered by John Adams, Richard Henry Lee, of Virginia, and others, who advocated a separation from Great Britain. The part which Mr. Dickinson took in this debate, occasioned his recal from congress, as his constituents did not coincide with him in political views, and he was absent several years. Perceiving, at length, that his countrymen were unalterably fixed in their system of independence, he fell in with it, and was as zealous in supporting it in congress, about the year 1780, as any of the members. He was president of Pennsylvania from November, 1782, to October, 1785, and was succeeded in this office by Dr. Franklin. Soon after 1785, it is believed, he removed to Delaware, by which state he was appointed a member of the old congress, and of which state he was president. .
He filled with ability the various high stations in which he was placed. He was distinguished by
his strength of mind, miscellaneous knowledge, and eultivated taste, which were united with a habitual eloquence; with an elegance of manners, and a benignity which made him the delight as well as the ornament of society. The infirmities of declining years had detached him long before his death, from the busy scenes of life ; but in retirement his patriotism felt no abatement. The welfare of his country was ever dear to him, and he was ready to make any sacrifices for its promotion. Unequivocal in his attachment to a republican government, he invariably supported, as far as his voice could have influence, those men and those measures, which he believed most friendly to republican principles. He was esteemed for his uprightness, and the purity of his morals. From a letter which he wrote to James Warren, Esquire, dated the 25th of the first month, 1805, it would seem that he was a member of the society of friends. He published a speech delivered in the house of Assembly of Pennsylvania, 1764; a reply to a speech of Joseph Galloway, 1765; late regulations respecting the colonies considered, 1765; letters from a farmer in Pennsylvania to the inhabitants of the British colonies, 1767—1768.
The following is an extract from an address of Congress, to the several states, dated May 26, 1779, which was also from the pen of Mr. Dickinson:
1“ Infatuated as your enemies have been from the beginning of this contest, do you imagine they can now flatter themselves with a hope of conquering you, unless you are false to yourselves ?
" When unprepared, undisciplined, and unsupported, you opposed their fleets and armies in full conjoined force, then, if at any time, was conquest to be apprehended. Yet, what progress towards it have their violent and incessant efforts made ? Judge from their own conduct. Having devoted
you to bondage, and after vainly wasting their blood and treasure in the dishonourable enterprise, they deigned at length to offer terms of accommodation, with respectful addresses, to that once despised body, the congress, whose humble supplications only for peace, liberty and safety, they had contemptuously rejected, under pretence of its being an unconstitutional assembly. Nay more, desi- rous of-seducing you into a deviation from the paths of rectitude, from which they had so far and so rashly wandered, they made most specious offers to tempt you into a violation of your faith given to your illustrious ally. Their arts were as unavailing as their arms. Foiled again, and stung with rage, imbittered by envy, they had no alternative, but to renounce the inglorious and ruinous controversy, or to resume their former modes of prosecuting it. They chose the latter. Again the savages are stimulated to horrid massacres of women and children, and domestics to the murder of their masters. Again our brave and unhappy brethren are doomed to miserable deaths, in goals and prisonships. To complete the sanguinary system, all the “ EXTREMITIES of war" are by authority denounced against you. .
“Piously endeavour to derive this consolation from their remorseless fury, that the Father of Mercies” looks down with disapprobation on such audacious defiances of his holy laws ; and be further comforted with recollecting, that the arms assumed by you in your righteous cause have not been sul. lied by any unjustifiable severities.
“Your enemies despairing, however, as it seems, of the su::ess of their united forces against our main army, have di: ided them, as if their design was to harrass you by predatory, desultory operations. If you are assiduous in improving opportunities, Saratoga may not be the only spot on this continent to give a new denomination to the baffled
. troops of a nation, impiously priding herself in notions of her omnipotence.
6 Rouse yourselves, therefore, that this campaign may finish the great work you have so nobly car. · ried on for several years past. What nation ever engaged in such a contest, under such a complication of disadvantages, so soon surmounted many of them, and in so short a period of time had so. certain a prospect of a speedy and happy conclusion. We will venture to pronounce, that so remarkable an instance exists not in the annals of mankind. We well remember what you said at the commencement of this war. You saw the immense difference between your circumstances, and those of your enemies, and you knew the quarrel must decide on no less than your lives, liberties, and estates. All these you greatly put to every hazard, resolving rather to die freemen than to live slaves ; and justice will oblige the impartial world to confess you have uniformly acted on the same generous principle. Consider how much you have done, and how comparatively little remains to be done to crown you with success. Persevere; and you insure peace, freedom, safety, glory, sovereignty, and felicity to yourselves, your children, and your children's children.
.“ Encouraged by favours already received from Infinite Goodness, gratefully acknowledging them, earnestly imploring their continuance, constantly endeavouring to draw them down on your heads by an amendment of your lives, and a conformity to the Divine will, humbly confiding in the protection so often and wonderfully experienced, vigorously employ the means placed by Providence in your hands, for completing your labours.
“Fill up your battalions; be prepared in every part to repel the incursions of your enemies ; place your several quotas in the continental treasury; lend money for public uses ; sink the emissions of